To Shannon and me, Christmas is one of the most special times of year. It is a memorial of one of the two of the most significant days in the history of mankind—the birth of Jesus Christ. (The other is what we traditionally call “Easter” [I like to call it Resurrection Day]—the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ). These two days—the time Jesus descended to the earth to become a man and the time Jesus was raised from the earth on that great Third Day—are the most important days on our Christian calendar because of the awesome grace that was displayed through these two historical events.
But regarding Christmas, there are many ways in which the spirit of this world has attempted to pervert it. Christmas has, of course, become so commercialized and turned into a holiday that does not exalt and magnify the real reason for the season.
So, in an attempt to negate this, many Christians like to say, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” but did you know that’s not completely true? The truth is that YOU are the reason for the season and Jesus is the gift given. In other words, while Jesus is certainly to be our focus during the holidays, you and I were the focus when God gave us His only begotten Son 2,000 years ago. Hallelujah!
You see, one of the things that contributes to this commercialization of Christmas is the focus being on gifts. And while the giving of gifts is certainly a good part of Christmas, if it becomes too much about shopping, what we are going to buy, and where are we going to buy it, then what ought to be a joyous holiday can turn into a “black Friday.”
No, what makes Christmas so special is not just when we give gifts, but when we are thinking about others—meaning, our hearts are geared towards blessing others and our aim is to get them the perfect gift that will honor and bless them. In other words, when the focus is not on the gift itself, but on the recipient of the gift, that is when we are doing Christmas right. This is what creates the blessedness of Christmas—love.
And that is exactly what motivated our Heavenly Father to do what He did. It was love that motivated Him to give us the greatest gift this world has ever known—His great love for us. Yes, He honored us in the gift of Jesus. He blessed us through His only begotten Son. Jesus was the manifestation of God’s great love for us. Amen!
So, as we enter into celebrating Christmas this week, I desire for us to head into it with the right focus and with the correct perspective—that you and I are why we even have Christmas and why Jesus was sent in the first place. Jesus is the gift, and we are the recipients of the gift.
Let’s first look at the gift by turning to a familiar verse during Christmastime that refers to Jesus, the gift of God that was given—Isaiah 9:6.
A SON IS GIVEN
The Prophet Isaiah in prophesying of the Christ child who was to come said, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” This is a significant verse because in the first statement, we have a reference to His humanity, and in the second statement, we have a reference to His deity. On one hand, He was born as a child in His humanity, and on the other, He was God’s only begotten Son given by His Father.
So, while many Christians very admirably make Christmas out to be Jesus’ birthday, that is not entirely correct. Sure, it is His birthday in regard to His humanity, but His entrance into the world on that evening was not the beginning of His life. He is, was, and always will be the beginning! We need to predominantly understand that when He was born that night, He was more than “Baby Jesus.” He was the everlasting Word made flesh! Yes, a Son was given on that night!
So, Christmas should be viewed not so much as the birthday of little baby Jesus, but the glorious entrance of God’s greatest gift to the world—His only begotten Son!
Another familiar passage of Scripture, John 3:16, says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life.” This reveals to us a couple of awesome truths about this gift:
As I considered these things this week, I was reminded of that oh so powerful Scripture in James 1:17 that says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
You see, Jesus was certainly that good and perfect gift given to us by our good, good Heavenly Father, but every other good and perfect gift in our lives has also come down from Him. He, in His unchanging nature of light, love, and life, consistently gives things that benefit and bless us. This is just who He is.
So, Jesus is that good and perfect gift given to us by the Father, but again, He was given for us! Therefore, we are the reason for the season and the objects of God’s love.
THE HIDDEN TREASURE & THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
Jesus taught us a couple of parables that illustrate to us the value we have in the eyes of God—the Parables of the Hidden Treasure and of the Pearl of Great Price. These are found in Matthew 13:44-46.
Now these two parables are yet another attempt by our Lord and Savior to illustrate to us how His kingdom operates. But this time, Jesus attempts to reveal to us another aspect of His kingdom.
Now there are two ways that you hear of these two similarly themed parables being interpreted.
One is that the treasure and pearl illustrated in these two parables are the kingdom of God itself and we are the man and the merchant who discover it. Then, having found this precious commodity, we sell all we have for the joy set before us by laying down our lives for the cause of the kingdom. Therefore, most believers see these parables as how the disciple of Christ will react once discovering the kingdom—we will forsake all to experience the life of the kingdom. This is probably the most common interpretation of these analogies.
Secondly, these two parables have also been interpreted that the treasure and the pearl is us, and the man or merchant that sought out and found the church was Jesus. The Lord then forsook all He had to purchase us by first leaving His glory in heaven, becoming a man, and then ultimately by giving up His life for us on the Cross. So, this interpretation could be summed up by saying that Jesus sold all He had in order to redeem us as His own.
So, as I have considered both of these possible interpretations, I asked the Lord which one was correct. Is it that the treasure/pearl is your kingdom and the salvation one experiences when entering your kingdom or is the treasure/pearl the church that You died for? Is the man/merchant us discovering the kingdom or is this person Jesus who was seeking after us?
As I asked the Holy Spirit these questions, He responded to me saying that the answer is both. Yes, He told me that both interpretations are correct because, as He put it to me, you cannot have one without the other. Let me explain…
You see, the Lord never encourages us to do anything that He Himself has not already first done. Always remember that. He, as any good leader, will first practice what He preaches. And these two parables perfectly illustrate this principle of God’s kingdom.
The Lord was first this man/merchant in these parables: He discovered this kingdom in first seeking out and saving we who were lost and paying His all to purchase us out of the world. Thus, He began His kingdom by seeing a valuable treasure and pearl of great price that was hidden to the naked eye. He came to seek and save that which was lost and paid the greatest price to redeem us—that pearl of great price and that treasure hidden in the field.
Now there was a slight difference in both of these parables regarding this interpretation …
In the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, after stumbling upon the treasure in the field, he did not simply attempt to attain the treasure. No, he paid the price to purchase the entire field—knowing that in purchasing the field, He was purchasing the treasure hidden in the field. What a wise God we serve!
What we see here is that the Father saw such great value in the treasure that was hidden in this field that He decided to purchase the whole field itself. This paints a beautiful picture of the lengths that love will go to redeem the object of its love. And in this illustration, we can see how God paid the price for the whole world and not just for those who would receive His call for salvation. In other words, He paid for all man’s sin, not just the redeemed people’s sin. He went to such great lengths to offer this free gift of salvation to the whole world to where all one needs to do is receive the price paid—the blood of Jesus. Then, if they receive the price that was paid to redeem them, all other sin issues are taken care of. But if they reject the Lamb who was slain for their sins, then they reject the gift of salvation.
But Jesus did not just pay the price to redeem all of mankind; He also paid the price to redeem all of the world itself. Yes, this planet, which was thrown into a sin-cursed state when Adam sinned, was also purchased, ready to be redeemed when Jesus returns, bringing with Him the new heavens and the new earth. Come Lord Jesus, Come! Amen.
Now the point I want us to understand about these two parables is how Jesus chose to describe us—as a treasure and a pearl of great price. Oftentimes, we get so wrapped up in the greatness of the price that was paid that we totally miss the value of the object that was being paid for. Now, please understand me: This is in no way an attempt to diminish the focus on Jesus’ precious blood. Oh, how we should always pay great honor and reverence to His redeeming sacrifice! But at the same time, we need to realize that if God were willing to pay such a great price for us, then we must have had some value as well.
Do you believe God is a wise investor? Well, He did choose the Jewish people, did He not? Yes, saints, the Lord knows how to make a sound investment.
Well, do you think He would have paid that high of a price if there was not some comparable value in the item he was purchasing? Of course not! No, He paid such a great price for us because of the great value He saw in us. Thank You, Jesus! He saw a treasure in each one of us and He saw a pearl of great price in this church that He saw in His heart to create!
Now the gospel is that once we see this great love that God has for His church and for each of us individually, we can truly sell out ourselves. Amen. We can sell all that we have to gain entrance into this grand and glorious kingdom that is so precious and powerful. Amen!
But church, we need to understand that it all began with us being esteemed, valuable and precious in the sight of our Savior. As Paul taught us— “we have this treasure in earthen vessels…” (Second Corinthians 4:7) and the “riches of the glory of His inheritance is in the saints…” (Ephesians 1:18). Therefore, God’s treasure—Christ’s very inheritance—has been placed on the inside of every born-again believer because of the worth God saw in us! Glory!
Yes, Jesus is the One who left the 99 to go find the one lost sheep! He is the One who sweeps the house, searching for that one silver coin which was lost! Yes, He is that Father who was looking to restore His lost son who wasted his inheritance on prodigal living. (See Luke chapter 15).
And now that He has found us, He has washed, renewed, and recreated us! Now we are His workmanship—His work of art and His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10).
WHAT CHRIST GIVES AND HOW HE GIVES IT
So, the message He gives us this Christmas is evident:
Today, He says to us— I give you Myself, I give you everything, and I give you the choice. Now that ought to be all we need to be raptured up into the clouds today!
No greater love has anyone than this, that a man should lay down His life for His friends. Unless, of course, someone lays down His life for His enemies. And Jesus certainly laid down His life on many levels: Philippians 2:5-11 teaches us how. First of all, He laid aside all of His Godhead privileges when He willingly took on flesh & blood. Number two, He laid His life down throughout His time on the earth, being a servant to all, coming not to be served but to serve all. Finally, He laid down His life on the Cross and chose to drink from that cup. There is no greater love than this! And this ought to let everybody here today know that God so loves you. Amen.
But not only did He give us Himself; He gave us everything. All of those good and perfect gifts were given as a result of the one gift of Jesus. Yes, all that salvation entails—healing, prosperity, deliverance, freedom, joy, peace, etc.—these all come through Jesus.
So now, He gives us a choice! Will we partake of all that He has freely given us? To me, this is one of the greatest attributes God possesses—His willingness and desire to give us a free-will. He doesn’t force on us good nor does He force on us evil. He allows us to choose whom we will serve—to choose life or death, and blessing or cursing. But He does give us the answers for everyone who might be confused on which option is better—He said, “I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing” (Deuteronomy 30:19). And then He gives us the correct answer to this multiple choice saying, “Choose life.”
Now the choice is not made by simply agreeing with something. Nor is it made by us verbally choosing what we would like. The choice is made through our actions. Like it is with love, we don’t convince someone that we love them by just telling them; people know we love them when we consistently show them we love them. Likewise, God likes to be shown. We see this in the story of Abraham and Isaac—when God told Abraham to go offer up Isaac as a sacrifice to Him. Now we know that was simply a test for Abraham—to show God that Abraham indeed “feared” Him.
Which is a great way to conclude today—how we do we receive all that is entailed in the gift of God? The gift of salvation, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of healing, etc. are not forced on us. They are received. They are opened. They are applied. And they are enjoyed.
So, I encourage you all this Christmas; give like God gave! How does God give?
He gives absolutely freely! He expects nothing out of the person He gives to either before they have received nor after they have received. He expects no good merits before salvation, nor after salvation. He expects no thank you’s after as well! Number two, He gives extravagantly! He does not just give enough; He gives more than enough! He gives exceedingly, abundantly, above all we could ever ask or think!
Freely you have received; freely give!